Today, Miss California's crown still sits firmly atop her beautiful blonde head, thanks to pageant owner, Donald Trump. But are Christians still lauding her name and applauding her title as they were a few weeks ago? I think many are unsure how to react.
First we saw Carrie Prejean the beauty queen, who stood up for the traditional definition of marriage on live TV–in front of millions–citing her faith as the reason at a point of judgment which could, and may have, cost her the Miss USA crown. The next week, the audience at the Gospel Music Association's Dove awards honored her courage and conviction with an exuberant ovation. The Rock Church in San Diego, welcomed her home to tell her story.
Yet today, she is not only the queen who speaks out for traditional marriage, she is also the lady who exposed much of her body to a photographer and apparently lied about it. (Contestants must declare whether they have ever been photographed nude or seminude. Reports indicate Prejean didn't notify the pageant of the pictures now released.)
It is not uncommon for today's Christians to have strong convictions about one issue, and be confused or carefree about others. How will conservative Christians respond? Persecute the one whom we so recently praised? Our response says much about our hearts. I'm reminded of Jesus' words, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).
Many evangelicals may refrain from comment. Quick to praise a conservative stance, but when caught in a quandary, quick to clam up –especially when it might bring negative light to the church. Yet perhaps it is then that we should be the first to speak, certainly not to persecute, but to clarify our position with grace. After all, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). We do not have to avoid discussion in order to avoid throwing stones.
This morning, Miss California was interviewed on both NBC and CBS. She was asked by co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez on CBS' “The Early Show”: “And you don't feel it (the photo) interferes with your faith or what you preach publicly?” She answered no. Christians will have their own opinions, hopefully supported by scripture. Here is mine:
Prejean walks out her God-given faith in self-driven flesh just like the rest of us. Many young girls are swept away by the lure of fame and into the hands of liberal photographers. Many pageant photos, retail advertisements, and even high school senior pictures are far from conservative these days. I do not condone nor condemn Carrie's actions, as it is not my place to do either. I simply assert that Ms. Prejean shows the symptoms of having fallen into a trap. I know the signs. I've fallen into more than a few of my own.
Traps often get worse before we figure out we're in them, much less how to get out of them. First, we are lured into doing something that doesn't seem harmful at the moment. Then we believe we have to lie about it, so we do. Then when we're caught, we blame circumstances or others for our situation. Ultimately, we begin to contradict ourselves as we attempt to dig our way out of someplace we wish we'd never been.
This morning, Miss California told Matt Lauer on NBC's “Today” that there may be more photos of her not yet released. And although she admits that she probably should have been “a little bit smarter” and not been alone with the photographer during the shoot, she also declares, “If a photographer is willing to make an extra buck and did get a photo of me, so be it.”
Prejean told Rodriguez: “It's not that I didn't disclose them. It's that I never thought a photographer would be so unprofessional that he would release, you know, inappropriate photos like that, which were in-between shots.” While Prejean claimed she “definitely would not make those decisions today,” she also said, “there's absolutely nothing wrong with the photos” and calls at least one of her photos a mere “wardrobe malfunction.”
She says it wasn't her best judgment, yet stops short of admitting wrong-doing. She says the pictures were inappropriate but not immoral. She denies hiding them, but implies she didn't think they'd be found out. She says she blames the photographer for releasing them, but then says “so be it.” She admits that sometimes photographers come into the dressing room with her and take pictures while she's dressing, but then she's appalled when her private self is exposed for the entire world to see.
Once we find our way out of our messes, we often have a story that can help others. For “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Prejean is a beautiful lady, who I pray will turn this current controversy into a useful testimony. A lady of conviction with a clear and consistent message will be of the most benefit as a role model to young Christian girls. Further, a church of grace with a clear and compassionate response will be of the most benefit as a defender of our faith to the critics, and as a supporter to one of our own.